Adoptee seeks end to overseas adoptions
|Participants in a gathering of the 2007 International Korean Adoptees Association held a soccer tournament yesterday in Gwacheon, south of Seoul. About 510 adoptees attended the five-day event, which ends tomorrow. By Choi Geum-bok |
As the biggest-ever meeting of Korean overseas adoptees wraps up its five-day event tomorrow in Seoul, another group of adoptees has a different goal: ending the practice of overseas adoptions altogether.
Jane Trenka, a 35-year-old U.S. adoptee living and working in Seoul, said yesterday that about 100 adoptees she organized will stage an anti-overseas adoption protest at the Dongguk University subway station in central Seoul. A group of dozens of birth mothers who put their children up for adoption will join the protest, the first of its kind by Korean adoptees, Trenka said.
Trenka said her group will try to collect 1 million signatures against international adoption and present the petitions to the National Assembly.
“I think everybody agrees the best thing for children is to be raised by their own mothers,” said Trenka, a copy editor for the Yonhap News Agency. “Perhaps, materially, we [adoptees] can have more, but we are talking about mother-children relationships, and I think they are more important than money.”
Since the Korean War, about 230,000 South Koreans have been adopted overseas.
Trenka said Korea, the 12th-largest economy in the world, “can afford to take care of its own children and it should, as any other advanced country.”
Birth mothers in Korea are forced to send their children overseas for adoption because of the lack of a social welfare system here, Trenka said.
“For instance, in the United States, we had 500,000 single mothers. The U.S. social system isn’t all that great, but only less than one percent of those women relinquish their children because it [single motherhood] is socially acceptable and the government also helps them,” Trenka said. “But in Korea, it’s like 72 percent of the relinquishment rate with single mothers because they are not given enough support.”
Trenka, author of a book about the issue, said adoptions are a form of violence against the birth mother, because Korean society frowns on the idea of a single woman raising a child. Thus, the single woman has no choice but to give up the child.
She compared the issue to the so-called comfort women, who were forced to be sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
“I think Koreans are pretty much unilaterally supporting comfort women and very much aware of the violence that had happened to them as women,” she said.
“But, I noticed that people don’t care as much about birth mothers. even though this is a form of sexual violence against women,” saying she decided to protest after seeing the rallies in the United States about comfort women.
Trenka grew up in a small town in Minnesota and studied piano and English literature in college in Minneapolis. She said said her adoptive parents gave her everything she needed, but didn’t encourage her to find her birth mother.
As one of the participants in the overseas adoption conference, Trenka said it is nice for adoptees to network together and said such meetings should be held more often.
By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Writer [email@example.com]